Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Strange" Friends

 I have a great friend who walks with me on a regular basis....well as regularly as I can make it happen with all the demands of caring for my parents!  This friend is also one whom I travel with to quilt seminars.  First time was last year and we discovered that we make great room mates, like to walk in the morning, like to keep working on our projects after class, and just generally, enjoyed the same things outside of the classroom.  We walked miles along the California beaches at Monterey and loved every minute of it.  (Except that her camera took better pictures than mine!)

Since getting home we've carried on walking in our local area.  We both have dogs so we walk for probably a couple of hours, rain or shine.  Her background is military and she is a lot of years younger than me, so sometimes it's a bit like going to boot camp when I walk with her!  Last summer we walked when it was really too warm to be exerting ourselves like that, and when we got back to her house, we sat on the back deck, drinking water and just visiting.

Something she said about one of her other friends struck me as odd and I looked at her and said "You have some really strange friends."  She looked at me and answered "Yes.  Yes I do Gladys!"  I laughed at that as I had asked for and deserved her quick retort!

But it didn't end there.  About two weeks later, she came to my house and we were about to go for a long walk on the beach with the dogs.  But before we left she presented me with a gift.  A small art quilt made in honour of that conversation.  It was so wonderful I had to go get Mum and Dad to see it as well. I was complimented by the fact that she used the technique in my book, Embellishing with Anything, C&T Publishing, to represent my hair.  She was pleased with herself for accurately depicting my unusual earring! And the best part.....the pattern she used to quilt it is called "Bananas."  

I was pleased quite touched that she thought to do that for me and it now hangs in a place of honour in my studio.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Mini Doll Exchange

These are the two I sent to the USA and the UK beside the two I received.
The theme I requested was "wild and crazy" woman!  

The group "Stargaze Tomers" on Yahoo is comprised of members all over the world.  I am lucky to be one. The leader of the group is Patti Culea.  I was lucky enough to take a class from her years ago and would do it again in a minute if given the chance.

The on-line group is a very creative bunch and every once in a while, a challenge or exchange is organized to get us active again.  This time it was a tiny doll to be included in one of the "tome pages" which are the patterns we all have and got us united to begin with.  The people who chose to take place were divided into groups of three.  I was lucky enough to be assigned to an exchange with Patti herself and with Sue Crook, whom I have done exchanges with in previous themes.

I received a beautiful doll with hand dyed silk from Sue Crook with wildly colored hair.  And her clothes are separate, not a part of the doll.  A work of tiny and very specific art.  The doll I received from Patti is made of painted silk and her clothes and hair are beaded.  They are both shown in the picture above.

Patti wanted hers to be a garden fairy.  Here is a picture of the back and front of the mini doll I sent to her.

She is about 5" tall, has jointed arms and legs is dressed in ribbons and lace and hand beaded. Her hair is mohair that has been dyed.  Some of the lace she is wearing is hand painted (not by me!).

Sue wanted one that reflected the area I lived in.  Here are photos of what I received and what I sent away to her.  The area I live in has so many things to choose from to represent it.....skiing, fishing, boating, hiking, camping, cities, country.....snow, soil and surf all within minutes of each other.  So I decided to go back to the beginning and chose to do a doll that represented the Haida who were First Peoples on the west Coast.

She is wearing a traditional button blanket cape, a cedar (silk strips) woven hat, and carrying a basket of shells (teeny tiny ones I found on the beach where I walk my dog.) Oops....I see she doesn't have the basket in hand in this photo, but Sue tells me she arrived intact.  I spoke to a friend about the political correctness of making a Haida doll when I am not of that descent and was told that it was ok as long as it was done with respect.  It was and here she is.  

Monday, October 08, 2012

My 12 x 12 Challenge Group

This post is a copy of my post to another blog which I take part in with a number of other art quilters.  It is a challenge group where one person decides on a theme, and the rest of us design and create a 12" x 12" piece that is our interpretation of that theme.  Go to www.upforachallengeartquilts.com to see everyone's creations.  Here is mine:  

When this theme was announced, I had to go to the dictionary to look for meanings and interpretations.  What I found was:
Incandescence is the emission of light (visible electromagnetic radiation) from a hot body as a result of its temperature.[1] The term derives from the Latin verb incandescere, to glow white.[2] Incandescence is a special case of thermal radiation. Incandescence usually refers specifically to visible light, while thermal radiation refers also to infrared or any other electromagnetic radiation.

Having read this there were multiple ideas swirling in my head.  But that's normal.  I'm an idea person, and seldom a completion person!  How's that for True Confessions?  However, back to the theme.....almost immediately I came up with this idea and tried to think of reasons not to do it, but nothing else came out of my hands so here we are.  I started late in my attempts to do something to do with fire, which didn't work, and then finally got down to what I wanted to do in the first place.  They say listen to your heart and I should have because I'm happy with and had fun making this piece.   

I thought instead of light or the normal sources of heat, I thought of sex appeal, which is another elusive kind of heat.  There has been of late, a lot of resurgence of interest in Marilyn Monroe, the all time sex symbol for my generation.  Here is the picture I chose to use for a reference, found on Pinterest.  

Looking at this photo made me wonder what it was that radiated the sex appeal she was famous for.  Was it the looks?  There have been lots of women just as, or even more beautiful.  Was it the body language?  Or was it the diamonds?  I don't know and probably never will, but I truly enjoyed interpreting this photo to my 12" x 12" interpretation of Incandescence.

The project is worked on a black background which has a few sparkles on it.  The face and hair are layer upon layer of chiffons, both polyester and silk.  The face and shoulder are obviously carefully cut to indicate the appropriate shadows and shapes.  But the hair I truly enjoyed doing.  I just free hand cut teardrop shapes of all the colors of chiffon I had in yellow, pale yellow, glittery yellow and white and stitched down each piece as I went along, building up the shades and shapes and covering what didn't fit with a couple more layers.  A really free way to work and I enjoyed every minute of it and am happy with how it turned out.  The embellishments (did you know I love to embellish!!) are bits of treasures from my collection, a single earring, a strip off a dress from the thrift shop that I tore the diamonds off and kept, and a set of plastic eyelashes designed for Halloween but perfect for enhancing her sultry look.  The binding is metallic fabric and that was a trick!   


The other night I was laying in bed reading.  A good book with a glass of water beside me.  My dear husband was in the living room watching TV.

Suddenly, with a thump that was perceptible in the quiet of the bedroom, there was what I now know to be a wolf spider on the bedspread, just about right on my right breast.  I remained calm.....to a point......at least calm enough to think that I didn't want a splattered stain on the lovely pale turquoise matte lasse bedspread.  I slowly reached with my free hand and folded the edge of the spread up over "him" and held my hand over that like a cage.

And then I yelled.  I yelled BOB!!!  I yelled again.  I yelled "BOB, please come help me." I yelled again.  I yelled "HELP".  Finally my pleas for assistance got through the sounds of the television and dearest Bob leapt to his feet and came running in the bedroom looking panicked and scared and no knowing what to do.  I asked him to get a Kleenex off the night table, and when I lifted my hand, catch the spider under there quickly and squash it.....without leaving a stain on the bedspread.

He looked at me with an exasperated look and said "I thought you were having a heart attack or something!"  I said I should hope not .... it took him long enough to get there!  But he got the required Kleenex, poised in readiness, and waited for me to lift my hand.  I did so very slowly and Bob was ready to pounce.

When the cover came up.....no spider...  OK, so NOW I'm not calm anymore.  In fact I'm so creeped out that I want to cry.  I leaped out of bed, looked all over the floor, checked the curtain, looked on the window frame, shone a flashlight under the bed.....nothing....anywhere!  And to make matters worse, Bob is laughing!

I continued to check around the room but to no avail.  There was no spider to be seen.  I climbed back into bed, Bob having long gone back to the TV show, and tried to continue reading.  I never saw the spider but I couldn't read OR sleep either.  Every hair that tickled my cheek or movement of the covers or slight sound and I was on high alert expecting that spider to be back.  What a bad night.

The next day I tore that room apart.  I vacuumed all the walls, behind all the pictures, under the bed, in the closet, moved all the curtains, clothes, under the dresser, everywhere a spider could possibly be and found nothing.  Dust yes, dog hair yes, popcorn bits yes....but no spider.  Bob had by now named him Felix and was enjoying watching all the cleaning activity in the bedroom.  Felix was never seen again.  All I can hope is that I sucked him up the vacuum hose unknowingly.

When I told my girlfriend about it, she suggested that Bob had Felix hidden in a jar somewhere for the next time he wants a room cleaned!  Now I ask you, what kind of friend would say that???  One of my strange ones I can assure you!

But when I was cruising through Pinterest the other day, I found this and I can assure you, it is TOO TRUE!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's all about the Chicks!

Setting the stage: We have friends living on an island that we visit occasionally. This week Linda had ordered chicks and my husband was supposed to take them out to her. But he hurt his back and is laid up on some pretty severe medications. Being the helpful sort, I volunteered to deliver all the goods that had been ordered. When someone is coming in from town, everyone calls to ask to have various things brought out to them....cigarettes, beer, wine, groceries, baby chicks, chairs, all sorts of variety.

Now for the adventure: This past weekend, Linda had arranged with Bob to bring in her baby chicks. But the chicks were not ready when he was supposed to go in. he stayed home an extra day and that's when he hurt his back. So, because the chicks were ready to go to their new home, and they are fairly fragile at this stage....and Bob was not ready to go anywhere, I said I would run that errand and go out to the island, stay overnight at Linda's and then come home again. She was pleased to be having company and I was pleased with a little mini-escape. We planned to do some kayaking. On the Friday, Mum and I ran around doing the errands and picking up the various supplies always requested when someone is coming from town......lettuce, fresh milk, plumbing supplies, oil, cookie dough, beer, wine, cigarettes....always an interesting list, but most importantly, the chicks!

When Mum and I got home, I got the chicks settled in the dog crate with water and food. I must say that both Mum and Dad enjoyed seeing the young life and hearing the peeping. Dad was smiling and bent over watching them. Having memory flashbacks to his time on the farm I'd bet, but he sure looked amused. Mum was amazed that there was one voice in the 30 birds that was continually louder and more aggressive than the others. The chicks settled well for the night.

At 7:30 a.m. Bob had me up and rushed out the door. I wondered what the heck I was going to do with the extra time as it doesn't take me that long to drive there for a 10:00 a.m. pickup. (It does for him, but he has been teased about his green truck being a turtle shell!) The last phone call I had with Linda the evening before was that the pickup time would be 10 if I didn't hear from her again. So....since I had been kicked out of the house with all the supplies loaded in the car, I drove north, stopped at Sayward Junction for a leisurely tea, and carried on. The logging road is nicely graded and not too many potholes, so even tho I take it pretty carefully on that part of the road, I made good time. I arrived at the wharf, pulled up close so as to unload before parking the van....and the fun began.

I got out, walked around to the other side and opened the door to check the chicks, except that the other side was locked. I walked back around the vehicle, opened the door, pushed the unlock/lock button and walked back around to the other side. Still locked. It wasn’t till the second time I returned to the driver’s door that I realized what I’d done….left the keys on the seat and locked myself out of my van. Arrrgh! I stood there wondering what to do. It was very sunny and I was worried about the chicks locked in the closed car in the sun. Not to mention four cases of frozen meat! My phone doesn’t work out there so I had no way to call anyone. I waited till 10 hoping Linda had a phone and was mortified that I would keep everyone waiting. But 10:00 o’clock came and went, as did 10:15, 10:30 and 10:45. By now I’m really worried about the chicks. So I decided I had to break a window.

I found a rock that was ragged and started trying to break the little window by the rear view mirror, thinking it would be the cheapest to replace and the easiest to drive home with it missing. I beat on that window with everything I had for about 20 minutes. All I accomplished is severely scratching the window. Not even a crack or chip! I stood there puffing and wondered what to do next. I wandered around the parking lot looking for a piece of steel rod or something. I couldn’t find anything even remotely useful. It was so silent. The water was like glass, not a sound anywhere…..but suddenly a big machine in the dryland sort started up! AHA!!! A person who might have a phone….I can call a towing service and get this opened perhaps.

Still no Linda so I walked over to the big yard where they were piling up logs and stood in the middle, trying to make myself obvious so I don’t get run over. The man continued to pile logs for about 5 minutes and then I guess he figured I wasn’t going to go away so he drove over close to me and slowed down his machine, looked down at me and said “Do you need help?” (Duh!) I said:

“I was wondering if you would have a crowbar or something that I could break into my car with….I’ve locked myself out.” His lips were twitching and his eyes sparkling and he shut the machine off and got out and stood on the deck. I said “It’s ok if you laugh! I feel pretty stupid!” He laughed then, jumped down from his machine and asked what kind of vehicle I was driving. I said and explained about the chicks inside, and that I had tried to break the window but wasn’t strong enough with just a rock. He smirked again. It’s ok. Smirk all he wants…I needed his help.

Now this is when you believe in angels unawares and all that stuff. Not only is he the only person within miles on Saturday morning, but he says “Let’s try another approach. I used to run a towing company in McNeill so let’s see if we can get the car open" OK. I’m very hopeful as I walk back to the car. He arrives shortly in a little “golf cart” and he has a big screwdriver and a selection of wires with him. After looking inside to see the setup of the vehicle, he put the screwdriver in the top corner of the driver’s door, with a sock between it and the pressure point, and asked me to hold it forward at an angle “like this”. I did that. He then bent the end of one of the wires, poked it in the gap formed by the screwdriver, pushed it forward inside the car and then maneuvered it around until he got the button and managed to click it, successfully unlocking the car! I was so excited I turned around and hugged him, completely throwing him off guard, and said thank you thank you thank you! He was grinning and laughing at my excitement. But the alarm was blaring loudly so I opened the car, grabbed the keys, pressed the button and shut off the noise. Phew. Silence again.

I had picked up two 8 packs of beer for Sheila, who is helping Linda cook for a logging crew right now, and I opened the back and said “Do you drink Beer? I’d like to give you some I’m so grateful. It’s warm but I’m just so happy that you got that open.” He took the beer with a big smile on his face, set it on the seat in his little cart and took off back to work. I couldn’t believe my good luck in having someone with those skills right there when I was desperate. I also wondered why ever lock the vehicle. Except for the alarm, there’s not much to it!

Now, back to business. Linda is still not there. And I am grateful because now I can put everything down on the wharf and be ready. I did that. I left the frozen meat and the chicks in the car which I’ve now parked in the shade, and I took the chairs, the pipes and nails and plumbing supplies groceries and my suitcase down to the wharf. But while I was doing that I dropped the other 8 pack of beer for Sheila. They rolled all over the place and were dented and scratched. One can was leaking so I put it in my tea mug to contain it, thinking Sheila will be laughing when I give her a cup with a leaking can in it.

I went back up to the van, opened the box of chicks, put the top off my thermos in their box with water in it and made sure they were all ok. I enjoyed watching them peep and drink and jump in and out of that little bit of water. I had the windows open and it was pleasant, but still no Linda. I began to think something was wrong so decided that I would wait till 2 p.m. and then go home and see what I could do to set the chicks up for another delivery time. After watching them settle down again I decided to go down to the wharf and get my book out of my suitcase and sit there and read. I left the van open for air, with the chicks in it and headed for the wharf.

I’m five steps down the ramp and a giant Raven flies away with a chicken filet out of Len’s groceries! I got down there and looked and the bird had pecked through my cloth grocery bag, through the plastic shopping bag, and through the plastic wrapper of the meat and had shredded one chicken breast all over the wharf and was happily eating it! I was horrified as now they are short one chicken breast! I was so annoyed and then realized that the chicks are peeping in the van with the window open and I wouldn’t put it past the two ravens swooping overhead to go for them too. So I covered the groceries with my suitcase and a chair, sprinted up the wharf to get the chicks, and sprinted back down again with the box of chicks in hand.

Darned if the Ravens aren’t in the groceries again from another angle and this time they have a big peck hole in his steak! But now I’m there to guard the stuff and I sat on a chair, with the chicks on another chair, the groceries all covered up and read my book in the sunshine while I waited for Linda. The raven swooped overhead for quite a while knowing there were snacks there, but I didn’t move. They sat in the tops of the trees and squawked at me, but they weren’t getting any more out of my stuff! I soon got warm enough that I decided I would just drink the beer that was in the leaky can! So now Sheila has 7 beer where she is expecting 16!

Linda showed up at 12:00. (She got confused because she said 10 the evening before, but in the morning she read my email which was sent much earlier in the day, suggesting 12:00 noon so she came for noon). She was pleased to see me and had Len with her to help load things in the boat. I went and got the frozen meat out of the van and we took off. We chatted happily, and took a little cruise past the log sort on the other side of the hill they are logging. The dozer boat was fascinating to watch, but I think I would probably be squealing and crying if I was in it! Linda headed back around the point and we got about half way up the channel and suddenly both engines stopped. Linda looked at the fuel gauge and sure enough …. Both tanks are empty. Linda was furious that someone would dock the boat with no fuel in it, and furious with herself for not checking before she set out. She phoned Sheila in the kitchen to tell her to send someone out with fuel, and Sheila just started laughing! So we all laughed. What can you do! We drifted a bit and each drank one of Sheila’s beer. We drifted towards a semi-abandoned float house and Len calmly tied us up and we waited there, enjoying the sun and the calm water. I’d have been terrified if it had been rough! Pretty soon one of the men came around the corner and poured 5 gallons into one tank and we limped to her place on one engine.

We unloaded the groceries and Len and I took them up the ramp while Linda went right over to their fuel dock to fill the boat. Sheila, who turns out to be someone I knew years ago is laughing so hard by the time I explained all the things that happened to her beer and why she got one scratched and dented can that she can hardly stand up! That’s one that I’m never going to live down. During the 24 hours I was there she got a lot of pokes in about her missing beer.

But that’s not the end of the adventure. Linda came back from the fuel dock, and we were outside by their fire pit. She was carrying the box of chicks and said she was going to go right up and put them in their house. She almost got past us and I noticed her hair was all wet and asked her if she had gone swimming or something. She started laughing and said “I was hoping nobody would notice. I did the pike pole landing as the boat drifted away from the dock and I didn’t stretch far enough and fell in! Just like you see on TV! Luckily it's a nice day!”

She soon came back down, we finished preparations for dinner for all the loggers, and then she and I and her grandchildren went up the hill to look at the chicks…….most of whom had found a way out of the house so we had to find the hole, plug that and put them all back. Great fun for the kids catching little chicks!

By the time dinner was done and all the loggers left for their cabins and the chicks were finally safely in their new home I was exhausted from all the excitement and I went to the little room that Linda had prepared for me and I read for a while but soon fell asleep. We planned to do some kayaking the next day, but when we got up it was raining so we just visited. After so many calamities in one day, I am wondering if I'll ever be trusted to make the run for the team again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Toopy - A One-of-a-Kind Toy!

Life has been hectic lately, and the needs of two elderly parents have largely taken over.  Actually, we are getting settled in.  We have doctors, dentists, eye specialists, other specialists, new wills for British Columbia and all those "moving" things just about completed.  It's only taken six months!

Through all of this my creative muse has been on hiatus.  I've struggled with wanting to do some artwork, but most times end up just getting through the necessary and not getting to the art! 

However, as they say, I digress.  I have been busy with something creative.  My youngest grandchild is a boy, age 3.  His dad, my son, called and asked me if I would make him a stuffed toy of his favorite TV character because they couldn't find one anywhere and they had been looking everywhere!  He got me with the plaintive words....."you know Mum, like you made me a big stuffed Gumby when I was little?"  Oh all right, I'll try.  Who is this favorite character?  A distorted looking mouse whom I've never seen either!  So I had to google for an image. 

I got several and set out from this picture to create the toy.  I made a prototype body and didn't like the shape of it so re-designed that part.  The legs, arms and feet came out perfect first try.  This picture includes the rejected body shape, and the stitched feet, ears and hands.

This photo is of the finished pieces. I sent it via phone to my son for approval and he loved it....but his suggestion was to send it to them just like that to see what his son said when he opened the parcel. Needless to say I  desire to freak the kid out with a decapitated Toopy!

Then there was the head connection. The skinny neck caused considerable deliberation on construction techniques.  It went together the first time with a piece of flexible PVC pipe inside, but I felt it wasn't cuddly enough and didn't like it.  So I took it apart and tried a different approach.  At this stage a friend of mine came to visit and she told me "Put it together and call it done!  It's for a 3 year old and it will soon be covered with bodily fluids and bits of food!"  Good point!! 

But I got this far, Mum knitted his little sweater and then the head got attached.  But there was one more detail.  See that little tail in the photo above?  I couldn't figure out if it was a twirled tail or a "stack of donuts" or what!  I decided the best way to solve that problem was to try to find the show on TV and actually watch this guy.  I didn't know what channel it was on or what time. 

And at this point I had to go to Victoria with my Mum for several specialist appointments which we grouped into one week.  Victoria is a lovely city and the weather was spectacular.  We went to each appointment, shopped and wandered around a little, and in the afternoon came back to the hotel room for Mum to have a little rest.  Some days I walked to the used book store, others I was reading.  Mum likes to rest with the TV on.  She was surfing through the channels looking for one of her favorite shows and what pops up?  Of course...."Toopy & Binoo".  So we watched it.  We watched TWO episodes!

 I had the most spectacular view of his tail when he turned around and wiggled it beautifully so I now knew what I had to do!  But....I must admit to wondering what my life had become when I am in a hotel room in Victoria, watching "Toopy & Binoo" AND being excited about it! 

Here's the finished product.....going to the post office today.

And there's a label where his heart would be that says "Made with Love by Grandma".  The sweater also has a label inside it that says "Made with love by Great Grandma".  I am hoping that my daughter-in-law takes a video when my grandson opens his parcel!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day Two at Asilomar - Empty Spools Conference

Day Two and I can tell you that "This is a fabulous experience"!  This morning we thought we had our alarm set for 6 a.m. to get up and go for a walk on the beach before breakfast.  It went off at 5 a.m.!  YIKES!  My room mate got up and did her morning preparations....when she came out of the washroom she said "Aren't you getting up to go for a walk?"  I said "it's only 5:00...it's still dark out" and buried myself in my bed covers again!  She looked out the window and promptly got back into bed as well.  The clock alarm went off again in 15 minutes....Don't you just hate "snooze" when you don't expect it?!  The alarm on my phone, which is the one we had set, finally went off at the prescribed 6 a.m. and we got up and headed out to the beach. It was wonderful to watch the sunrise, the birds, the waves.....and then we got to quilt all day!!!

 There are so many great teachers here and so many friendly people.  I'm not surprised actually, every quilting conference I've ever gone to is like that.  Everyone is welcoming, lots of teasing about being from Canada, and the teachers mingle with the students at meals and spare time.  The program is incredibly well organized, keeping us busy and entertained every minute of the day!  Check this out:  Empty Spools, Asilomar, California.

The first class you see listed is the one I'm taking.  Portraits with Esterita Austin.  She is a delightful teacher, great sense of humour, really knows her stuff, and is very enouraging.  Today we sketched our photographs into patterns, had them enlarged and got started cutting fabric.  I have a feeling I may be re-cutting tomorrow, but here's a look at what I've started. 

The photos I brought were not considered acceptable as they didn't have the right amount of light/dark exposure or shadows so Esterita took my photo herself, ran it through photoshop last night, and this morning we all got started working up our designs.  Great things are expected for tomorrow....like sleeping IN!